Oral and Written Narratives: A Comparison of Children With and Without Language Impairments
AuthorWright, Margaret Vivian
Speech Pathology and Audiology
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Purpose:The purpose of this study was to examine oral and written narratives of 30 children with and without language impairments.Method: Thirty third grade children with either a clinically identified language impairment or typical development were matched to create 15 age and gender matches. The CELF-5 and TONI-4 were administered to further describe the severity of the children’s language. Children then told oral and written narratives stories that were elicited using twin themed story starters. Research assistants who were blind to the purpose of the study transcribed and scored the oral and written stories. Oral and written narratives were analyzed at the word, sentence, and discourse level. At the word level, number of total words (NTW), number of different words (NDW) were measured. At the sentence level, was measured mean length of utterance (MLU). At the discourse level overall all narrative quality using the Monitoring Indicators of Scholarly Language (MISL) was measured. An inter-rater reliability score of 85% or better was considered acceptable for the transcription and scoring. Comparisons were made between oral and written language modalities as well as between children with and without language impairment.Results: Overall, written NDW was the only statistically significant difference when comparing oral stories to written stories. When comparing children with language impairments to children with typical development, there were statistically significant differences in written NTW, written NDW, and written MISL score, suggesting that children with language impairments had a more difficult time with their writing than their oral stories in the third grade.Conclusion: The findings demonstrated that particular attention should be paid to written stories for children with language impairments. Specifically, lexical diversity, length of written stories and overall narrative quality. Literacy instruction should focus on the explicit teaching to develop greater lexical diversity in written measures for all children and lexical diversity and development of written causal and temporal terms for children with language impairments.Key words: narratives, oral language, written language, language modalities, language impaired, typically developing.
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